Joseph Mallord William Turner

Dunstanburgh Castle: The Ruins Seen above a Cliff with the Sea in the Foreground


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 135 × 95 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XL 82 a

Catalogue entry

The composition is continued on folio 85 recto opposite (D01604; Turner Bequest XL 83). Another drawing of Dunstanburgh Castle is on folios 82 verso–83 recto (D01599–D01600; Turner Bequest XL 80a–81).
A further study showing the easternmost or Lilburn Tower in a thunderstorm is in the Wilson sketchbook (Tate D01211–D01212; Turner Bequest XXXVII 94–95). Turner’s main response to Dunstanburgh, however, is recorded in a sequence of drawings in the North of England sketchbook of 1797 (Tate D00952–D00954; Turner Bequest XXXIV 45, 46, 46a), and the scattered studies in other books may be meditations on those, rather than sketches made on the spot either in 1797 or on another tour. Turner executed two oil paintings of Dunstanburgh in these years (National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne and Dunedin Art Gallery, New Zealand)1, so he may well have been preoccupied by the subject.

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, respectively pp.4–5 no.6, pl.4 (colour) and pp.23–4 no.32, pl.28.

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